Stay healthy and safe and take the vaccine


Stay healthy and safe and take the vaccine


So the mighty COVID-19 has kept the pre-lenten carnival  revellers off the streets of Trinidad this year.

The spectacular Trinidad carnival after which the Toronto  mas’ extravaganza is modelled, would have been held this week but alas the unrelenting coronavirus did not allow it.

And in Toronto at this time no one can say with any certainty whether there will be a Caribbean carnival this summer. It seems as if all bets are off about Toronto Carnival 2021 as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc all over the place.

In our own Caribbean community there are serious concerns about the deadly virus.

We have heard the news: COVID-19 continues to have a disproportionately high impact on Toronto’s Black and other racialized communities.

What does that really mean?

Well, let’s look at some hard figures. Toronto Councillor Joe Cressy, who chairs the City’s board of health,  has reported that 79 per cent of all cases of COVID-19 in Toronto has been racialized Torontonians.

“Black Torontonians, despite being only nine percent of the city’s population, have been – at any given time – anywhere between 16 and 32 per cent of all cases,’’ he said.

Alarming statistics,indeed.

But there is another major problem in our community which has to be addressed and the sooner the better. Many Black people are reluctant to take the COVID-19 vaccine because of misinformation and  rumours and distrust of the health care system.

In an interview with  The Caribbean Camera this week, Dr. Akwatu Khenti ,Chair of the recently established Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity,  spoke of the distrust in  our community  of the health care system. He said he has met Black people who have  expressed concerns that the vaccine may alter their DNA or infect them with the coronavirus or HIV and that it may contain fecal matter.

Dr. Khenti who is the Special Advisor to the City of Toronto’s Targeted COVID Equity Action Plan, also pointed out that many  fear that they may become guinea pigs by taking the vaccine which was only recently developed.

But As Dr. Khenti remuinded us, ” the risk of  taking  the vaccine is far less than the risk of getting  COVID-19.”

Is this message getting through to the Black community?

It is, of course, not always easy to get people to discard rumours which they have embraced as truth and then accept unvarnished scientific facts.

But we hope that the doubting Thomases and those who are reluctant to take the COVID-19 vaccine will listen to the advice of  the learned doctor.

And we are pleased to report that the Task Force which Dr. Khenti heads and which includes several medical experts, is co-hosting in conjunction with several community organizations, a series of virtual town hall meetings to address concerns in  the Black community related to the  COVID-19.

Those who harbour doubts about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine  would do well to “attend ” the town hall meetings.

Let us educate ourselves and be better  prepared to combat this deadly menace which has taken the lives of so many of our loved ones.

As Jamaican tourism minister Edmund Bartlett said last week in a message to his fellow nationals in Canada: “Stay healthy and safe and take the vaccine.”